With humility before the sustained excellence of the Faculty of Religious Studies’ history, and with real excitement before the School of Religious Studies’ most promising future, I am pleased to serve as the first Director of the School of Religious Studies.
The School finds itself presently in a period of transition, and of extraordinary promise. In May 2016, the Faculty of Religious Studies was repositioned as the School of Religious Studies in the Faculty of Arts. The School will continue to effect all of the teaching, degree, and research programs in religion and theology that have characterized its long and successful history at McGill. The School will continue its constitutive relation with the Montreal School of Theology and its close collaborations with cognate disciplines and units within the Faculty of Arts. At the same time, the University has made a significant additional investment in the future of the School and its priorities. We will benefit from a series of new faculty positions, offered in order to reinforce areas of historical excellence and to establish new areas of specialization, and from financial incentives offered in order to establish new priorities. This is a very exciting moment, within a very long history of accomplishment, for Religious Studies at McGill.
In this future endeavour, we will build upon major recent successes. In 2013, for example, a landmark gift from the Barbara and Patrick Keenan Foundation launched a series of major new developments, including the establishment of the Keenan Chair in Interfaith Studies, a new flagship course ("World Religions and the Cultures They Create"; RELG 208), and undergraduate internship and graduate fellowship support. For this investment we could not be more grateful or excited. With the guidance and support of our School Advisory Board and its Chair, H. Jonathan Birks, we will continue to invest in our research centre, the Centre for Research on Religion (CREOR), as well as more recent, focused initiatives such as the Birks Forum on the World's Religions and Public Policy initiative.
We hope sincerely that you will join us in these, our endeavours. Whether you are a member of our undergraduate or graduate student population, our faculty ranks, our alumni community, or a member of our extended local or international audience at our various CREOR and conference events, your participation in our community is the very best indicator of our effectiveness. We could not appreciate it more.